So I spent a week (mostly) refraining from partaking of the fruits of the Internet. Facebook, Twitter and my favorite blogs and news sites were avoided. I peeked once in a while, but never more than once a day for a few minutes. Here's what I picked up from the experiment.
Pro: Increased concentration! At the suggestion of a friend, I'm listening to Your Brain At Work. It's a pretty good book discussing the mechanics of brain activity as it relates to things you try to do in the course of a day. Your brain can only juggle a few items of data at a time and trying to hold disparate ones simultaneously makes a hash of everything. Keeping my Droid away from me and not thinking about blog posts made all of my other activities and relationships richer and deeper.
Con: I think my IQ dropped 20 points. How in the world do people who don't read the web know anything at all? The San Diego Union, covering the Euro debt crisis, told you little with the exception of one very nice front page article today. Lots of other big stories were just completely ignored. Not being able to interact with the authors and other readers was weird. I felt like most of the article was missing because there wasn't a comment thread at the bottom.
Conclusion: Discipline will pay off! The web is just too good to miss. So is the rest of the world. Each needs its place and each needs time where you concentrate on just it. When you leave your computer, leave it completely. I'm also going to avoid surfing the web on my phone as much as possible. It's a great alternative to have when there is absolutely nothing else to do, like when you're in a waiting room where the TV is playing daytime rubbish, but for the most part, I'm going to put the thing down and leave it alone.
There were quite a few other observations, but these were the biggest of the bunch.